Katina Powell, Andre McGee ran ‘criminal syndicate,’ U of L police concluded in 2016 investigation

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville police department determined that self-described madam Katina Powell and former Louisville basketball aide Andre McGee operated a “criminal syndicate” on campus for four years and should be charged with multiple felony crimes, according to a summary of the investigation.

“We advocate the pursuit of felony indictments for the identified suspects for the charges noted as soon as possible” in connection with the sex scandal that engulfed the men’s basketball program, three U of L police detectives wrote in a memo to Assistant Jefferson Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Foster on May 27, 2016.

The investigators argued Powell and McGee had committed the crimes of prostitution, promoting prostitution, engaging in organized crime and unlawful transaction with a minor from 2010 through 2014. While prostitution is a misdemeanor crime with a one-year statute of limitations, which had passed, the other charges were felonies with no time limit.

U of L police wrote that the “organized crime” – about  21 acts of engaging in or promoting prostitution – “would have continued indefinitely” if McGee had not left the university for another job in April 2014.

The “suspects” police listed as having engaged in organized crime were McGee, Powell and three of her daughters.

Police said U of L recruits told investigators they had sexual contact with the “dancers” and that “many” of the recruits were under 18, according to the documents.In addition, police said Powell’s “incriminating statements” and her “admitted presence at each of the ‘shows’ when the prostitution occurred” as well as the admission by Powell’s daughters of engaging in prostitution and the accompanying admissions from players and recruits, corroborated what Powell wrote in her book.

McGee and Powell refused, through their attorneys, to talk to U of L police, according to investigation’s summary documents that WDRB News obtained under Kentucky open records act.  

The evidence acquired by U of L police included interviews conducted by the NCAA, subpoenaed records, Powell’s book and her statements to the media and the department’s own interviews.

"A careful review of this information has determined that a criminal syndicate operated on the U of L campus between 2010 to 2014 that promoted and permitted prostitution as well as committed unlawful transaction with minors," the detectives concluded. 

WDRB first requested the entire U of L police investigation in June but has still not received most of the file, which includes thousands of documents. The police summary, which was released Wednesday, states that the department’s investigation was still ongoing at the time the recommendation was made to prosecutors. U of L redacted the names of the players and recruits, citing a law that releasing the information would be an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."

In an interview on Thursday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine said after receiving the police investigation, his office went back to interview witnesses and verify the information. Subsequently, prosecutors decided there was not enough “evidence to go forward to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt," Wine said.

"Simply because they (U of L police) say it, doesn’t make it so, with all due respect to their police department,” Wine said.

Wine said players and recruits denied having paid the women for sex and it is not illegal for someone 16-years-old or older to have consensual sex.

With McGee refusing to talk with police, Wine said it would be impossible to build a case around Powell’s statements, given her lack of credibility.

“It is not unusual for us to reduce charges or not to prosecute a case,” despite recommendations from police, Wine said.

Nearly a year after police handed over the department's investigation, on May 25, 2017, a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict Powell or McGee on criminal charges in connection with the sex scandal. Prosecutors recommended jurors not indict Powell or McGee and the "grand jury agreed with our assessment," Wine said at the time.

The Commonwealth's Attorney’s office determined there was not the “legally required independent corroboration of the allegations” made in Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” to justify recommending an indictment.

At the time, Wine said that "in the final analysis there is not sufficient credible evidence assembled to support bringing criminal charges against these individuals."

The police investigative summary indicates the evidence revealed “a criminal syndicate” used to “bribe, induce or influence visiting basketball recruits to choose” U of L.The actions of McGee and Powell and “the approximate” 24 dancers were a “continuing collaboration designed to facilitate the syndicate’s illegal activities of engaging in, promoting, or permitting prostitution,” the U of L detectives wrote.

The U of L police documents said some of the recruits were 16 or 17 when they engaged in sexual conduct with “paid prostitutes.”

The documents then quote Powell as saying in a media interview: “When I asked Andre about the ages of how old were those kids, he said, don’t worry they’re grown. … Coming out of high school some kids are seventeen eighteen years old. I knew they were at least seventeen eighteen. … At the time, I was doing what I was asked to do.”

Police said the “issue” of Powell allowing her three daughters to participate in sex acts “remains under investigation.”

Wine has said that while Powell's book indicated that one of her daughters was under age when she had sex with a recruit, that information turned out to be false. 

The police summary concluded that "on many occasions, the criminal syndicate paid for sexual favors by the 'dancers' to visiting recruits and current or former U of L basketball players. In their pursuit of the scene, the age of the person was of no concern to the defendants. On some occasions, the syndicate would provide sexual favors to the coaches, guardians or parents accompanying the recruits, again, to bribe, induce or influence the decision of which school the recruit chose to attend."

Powell has claimed she hosted 22 stripping and sex parties from 2010 to 2014 inside Billy Minardi Hall, the on-campus dorm for athletes. She alleged that McGee arranged the parties and paid her $10,000 for supplying dancers.

Wine's office began issuing subpoenas in October 2015. McGee, a former U of L player, was the team's director of basketball operations when he allegedly paid Powell to provide strippers and dancers for parties at the men's basketball dormitory, where deals were then brokered for sex with players and recruits. 

The police summary describes McGee as having a bar in his room that was open to underage recruits and dancers. He would provide "bundles of one-dollar bills to the recruits in order for them to encourage the "dancer' to perform as they wished."

Attorney Scott C. Cox, who represents McGee, declined to comment Thursday. 

One of the last notes from police in the investigative summary is that detectives need to pursue "possible sources of funding for these crimes."

And police wrote that attorneys for McGee and Powell needed to be contacted so investigators could request interviews with their clients "in light of the pending grand jury indictments."

In June of 2017, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions found McGee guilty of major violations and handed him a 10-year show cause order effectively banning his employment by any NCAA institution. It did not find then-U of L Head Coach Rick Pitino guilty of failure to monitor his program, but found him guilty of failing to monitor McGee, and suspended him for the first five ACC games of this season.

It found a program assistant, Brandon Williams, guilty of failure to cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation. And in addition to a postseason ban and scholarship reductions the university imposed on itself, the NCAA put U of L on four years of probation, handed down further recruiting restrictions and ordered the school to officially disassociate with McGee, plus the vacation of records and return of NCAA Tournament revenue from the affected seasons.

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